Friday 30 May 2014

43% people in North West region struggle to make it to payday

There is a growing personal debt crisis gripping Britain as research shows 2 in 5 Brits struggle to make it to payday and that millions are now taking out payday loans and debt management plans to cope with the cost of living and debt repayment.

The shocking statistic follows news that a debt management firm has ceased trading in the Greater Manchester area. It is thought that Debt Help & Advice Ltd have around 3,000 customers who have a plan with it or its affiliates Primary Business Solutions and First Step Finance and I am advising Wiganers to cease making any payments to the company immediately. This view is echoed by the Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Whilst George Osborne may be celebrating, the people of Britain are paying out of their own pockets for this Government’s recovery – with many getting into debt or spending all their rainy day money as a result. Research from R3 shows 43% often struggle to get to payday and that this is due to household bills like energy or rent, or repaying credit cards and payday loans. Many people have no savings and if interest rates rise or rents continue to go up we could see millions of families out on the street or becoming so called zombie debtors- paying just the interest not the capital on their debts – as they stuck in a spiral of debt from which they can never escape.

That’s why it’s vital that we tackle the cowboys making money out of providing debt management advice and the legal loan sharks still profiting from these pressures. As well as action on our energy bills, I’m backing plans to get tough on debt management companies, to make sure people have access to good debt advice and alternative affordable finance.

I am championing the free debt advice services offered by not for profit groups like Citizens Advice, StepChange and the Money Advice Service.

There really is no need to pay to secure a debt management plan. My advice is if you are worried about debt and are finding it difficult to cope financially then seek help from Citizens Advice – it’s free and impartial.

In Parliament, I supported Labour’s amendments to the Consumer Rights Bill to address the fees that debt management companies charge as well as pushing for a levy on payday lenders to pay for debt advice provision.

The R3 Personal Debt Snapshot March 2014 can be viewed here.

Friday 23 May 2014

Emily Bragg set to 'Rock the House'

Today I announced Emily Bragg’s song ‘Under the Sun’ as the Makerfield nomination for Parliamentary competition Rock the House.

Wigan boasts a history of impressive musicians and today’s generation is every bit as talented and it is a pleasure to endorse Emily Bragg’s work to the panel of industry-leading judges who will preside over determining the overall winners. I wish Emily the best of luck as the competition progresses!

Sponsored by industry and supported by a host of celebrity Patrons, Rock the House is a fantastic opportunity for British musicians to gain priceless exposure and win fantastic prizes.

The competition offers the opportunity for the UK’s ‘creatives’ to have their work judged by the leading lights of industry and win prizes ranging from festival slots, studio time and equipment to name but a few!

Emily Bragg (aged 20) lives in Ashton in Makerfield and is a singer/song writer. Her musical influences include Adele, Amy Winehouse, Eva Cassidy, Pink and Kelly Clarkson.

Emily Bragg said, 'I first heard about the competition online. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get my music heard in different circles. The chance of playing to MPs in the House of Commons was a big draw as this is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s not always easy to get gigs and your music heard, especially in the current economic climate. Who knows, applying for this competition and taking chances just may give a musician a break they need!'

Emily’s portfolio of songs including ‘Under the Sun’ can be accessed here.

Thursday 1 May 2014

The challenge facing our generation

Only Labour can make Wigan Better Off

People in Makerfield have an important choice to make on 22 May: vote for the Tories and their Lib
Dem allies who only stand up for a privileged few, or vote for a Labour party that puts
hardworking families first.

This Tory-led Government claims that people are better off. But that’s totally out of touch
with local people on middle and lower incomes who are still not feeling any economic recovery
at all.

David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg simply don’t understand what hardworking
families in Wigan are going through at the moment. That’s why David Cameron has allowed
energy companies to put prices up yet again this year when people are already struggling to
pay their bills.

The truth is Britain is facing a cost of living crisis and hardworking people are £1,600 a year
worse off. Under David Cameron we’ve seen rising prices, stagnant wages, long hours, falling
living standards, and declining opportunities for the next generation. That is a shocking legacy
of his time in power.

The Tories can’t solve the cost of living crisis because they put the privileged few before
working people. The Liberal Democrats can’t be the solution because they are part of the
problem. Only Labour can make Britain better off.

The elections on 22 May are your chance to tell this Tory-led government to put hardworking
people first and make the big changes we need to tackle the cost of living crisis.

Only Labour is prepared to make these big changes because we understand that Britain is
stronger and more successful when everyone has a chance to play their part.

So Labour will get young people back to work through our Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, back
small firms by cutting business rates and balance the books in a fairer way by reversing David
Cameron’s huge tax cut for the richest one per cent.

We’ll also freeze energy bills, fight for our NHS, expand free childcare for working parents and
help 24 million workers with a lower starting rate of income tax.

Only by voting Labour on 22 May can you send a message to the Tories and Lib Dems that
hardworking people in our area are ready and waiting for the big changes we need to deal
with the cost of living crisis.